U.S. delays announcement of Okonjo-Iweala as WTO chief after withdrawing support
London, Oct. 28, 2020 (AltAfrica)-The announcement of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the new WTO Director-General, first African, first woman to occupy the post is been delayed by the United states government
United States has told a meeting of the World Trade Organization on Wednesday that it does not back Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next WTO leader, despite cross-regional support for her, two sources at the meeting told Reuters.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, has received more support in her quest to become the first ever woman and African to lead the World Trade Organization.
Reuters reports that a key group of WTO ambassadors, known as “troika”, has proposed the 66-year-old to replace Roberto Azevêdo as the next WTO Director-General. Azevêdo stepped down as WTO Director-General on 31 August 2020, a year before the expiry of his mandate
Okonjo-Iweala is in the running against South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee and her announcement to the top position looks like a formality until now
The Nigerian has already received endorsements from various countries and bodies, including ECOWAS, the African Union and lately the European Union
Reuters in its report notes that the troika endorsement will be formally communicated to heads of delegations at a meeting later on Wednesday. It would however still need to be approved by consensus at a meeting of the WTO’s 164 members which is now been held back by the US government
The race to become the next WTO Director-General started in May 2020 after Azevêdo announced that he would step down early.
From an initial eight candidates, only Okonjo-Iweala and Myung-hee made it to the final round.
The Nigerian noted that her experience from both the Nigerian cabinet and the World Bank would help her deliver her responsibilities at the WTO.
“I feel I can solve the problems. I’m a known reformer, not someone who talks about it. I’ve actually done it both at the World Bank and in my country,” she told Reuters.